Rule of the Month: Oh, What A Relief It Is! | Oregon Golf Association

Rule of the Month: Oh, What A Relief It Is!

By OGA Senior Rules Officials: Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly
Click Here for the Rule of the Month Archive

As 2016 draws to a close, we want to take this opportunity to thank our readers and wish everyone Happy Holidays. And, as a small token of our appreciation, introduce other avenues and opportunities to further your Rules knowledge. The Rule of the Month is very popular and continues to be the most used link of OGA publications. The Oregon Golf Association is one of few state associations that has a high level of commitment to Rules education. Five one-day Rules workshops are offered around the OGA regioneach year and the USGA/PGA hosts a number of three and a half day workshops around the country as well. Additionally, the Rule of the Month articles have now been archived on the website. However, changes to the Rules will not be reflected in the archived articles but when changes to the Rules or Decisions take place, the most pertinent changes can be found in a current article. When all else fails and you are unable to resolve a Rules issue, an email or call to the OGA will generally be answered within forty-eight hours. More patience is required over a weekend. 

We thank everyone for your interest in the Rules of Golf and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. -- Pete Scholz and Terry McEvilly 

The following links are presented to ease your search for Rules education and resolution of any questions.

Our final article of 2016 presents only one question to ponder.  After almost four years of questions to answer, we thought you might need a short break. 

Multiple Choice Question:   A player’s tee shot lands through the green in very heavy rough adjacent to a lateral water hazard.  He declares it unplayable and chooses to drop a ball within two club-lengths (Rule 28c) of where the ball lies. He drops it within the lateral water hazard and the ball rolls down the bank and comes to rest in shallow water and not more than two club-lengths from where it struck the course.  What are the player’s options?  Select all that apply.

  1. If he can, he may play it as it lies and incurs only the penalty stroke for declaring his ball unplayable.
  2. The player is not allowed to drop in a hazard when declaring his ball unplayable through the green.  Therefore, he must correct the drop by re-dropping the ball outside the hazard with no additional penalty.
  3. If the ball is not playable in the lateral water hazard, the player must re-drop the ball and if the ball is once again unplayable after the second drop he may place it where it struck the course on the second drop.
  4. Since a stroke has not been played at the dropped ball, the player may lift the ball and replace it on the spot where the ball originally laid unplayable through the green.  He incurs one penalty stroke for moving his ball in play under Rule 18-2.
  5. The player may play again from the tee.
  6. He may declare the ball unplayable in the hazard and drop a ball in the hazard within two club-lengths under an additional one-stroke penalty.
  7. The player may, under an additional penalty stroke, drop a ball within two club-lengths of where the ball last crossed the margin of the lateral water hazard.
  8. He may drop a ball behind the hazard keeping the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard directly between the hole and the spot of the drop.

Answer:  A and E are the only correct options for the player.  The following explains each multiple choice option.

  1. A player may always play their ball as it lies when in a lateral water hazard unless the hazard has been declared as an environmentally sensitive area and a Local Rule is in place prohibiting play. 
  2. When the player declared his ball unplayable through the green, he was allowed to drop a ball on any part of the course under Rule 28, even in a hazard or on the putting green, provided the drop is not closer to the hole than where the original ball lay.
  3. If the ball when dropped under Rule 28 comes to rest in its original position or another position where it is unplayable again, a re-drop is not permitted under Rule 20-2c.  He must play it as it lies or declare it unplayable a second time or proceed under any applicable Rule.  Since the ball was dropped and now lies in a water hazard, he may not use Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) again.  His only relief option is to proceed under Rule 26-1 (Water Hazard including Lateral Water Hazards) if he is unable to play the ball as it lies. See answer E below.
  4. Once a ball has been put into play under an applicable Rule, whether a stroke is made or not, a player may not replace the ball in its original position if he doesn’t like the result of the drop.  Under Rule 20-4 the ball was in play as soon as the player dropped it.
  5. The only relief option the player has is to play under the stroke and distance provision of Rule 26 (Water Hazard including Lateral Water Hazards).  See Decision 28/4.5.  Since the location of his last stroke was from the teeing ground, he may return to the tee and put another ball into play incurring a total of two penalty strokes.  One for originally declaring his ball unplayable through the green and one for relief from the hazard.
  6. Rule 28 (Ball Unplayable) may not be used when the player’s ball lies in a water hazard.  Rule 26 (Water Hazards including Lateral Water Hazards) is the only applicable Rule and in this situation requires the player to drop outside of the hazard.
  7. Since the ball was carried into the hazard by the player, there is no reference point of where the ball last crossed the margin of the hazard.  Therefore, other than the stroke and distance option mentioned in Answer E, the player has no relief options under Rule 26 for a ball in the lateral water hazard. 
  8. See Answer G above.

Click here to print questions sheet

click here to print answer sheet


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